Author Topic: The Purusha Principle of Yoga - David Frawley - Mountain Path - July -Sept. 2005  (Read 3263 times)

Subramanian.R

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(The following essay is a Book Extract from Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self Realization and Planetary
Transformation, published by Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, U.S.A.)

***

Imagines for a moment - as in the Isaac Asimov movie and science fiction novel, Fantastic Yoga -
that you are reduced in size to a miniscule level, placed inside a human body in a microscopic
vessel and begin to travel through it.  You would see blood and fluid, perhaps noting larger tissues
and organs.  You might consider that a blood vessel was simply a river or that the cells in the body
were creatures in their own right, with tissues and organs as lands and mountains.  Confronted by
the diversity of forms inside the organism, you would not perceive the overall organism.  You would
not even imagine that these apparently different entities were part of a single person with its own
consciousness who could travel at will, carrying them along as part of his own greater individuality.

We are in the same position as individuals in the conscious universe.  We do not perceive the greater
cosmic being but only the smaller objects or entities within it, the forms and creatures of our external
environment.  As creatures ourselves, we look at the universe from the inside like mere cells in a greater
organism.  We miss the overall being, the Divinity that exists at a vaster level than all we perceive.
We exaggerate our own independence and importance, thinking that we are real in our own rights
rather than just small parts of a totality that extends far beyond us.

However, those who live in harmony with nature, from animals to tribal peoples, so those who practice
deep meditation, are aware that they are part of a greater cosmic organism, that they are cells in the
body of God.  In this regard they have much to teach us about the real structure of the universe,
in which everything is part of a greater whole that is alive and aware.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva       

Subramanian.R

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Man and the Universe or Man as the Universe:

Western civilization has generally looked upon the human being as existing apart from nature,
with nature existing for our own benefit.  Western science regards human beings as the only
real intelligent life form on the  planet.  Its model of intelligent life on the other worlds consists
of technologically developed humanoids like us.  It sees  little wrong with disrupting or damaging
nature as long as some progress for our species may come of it.

Dominant western religions have generally portrayed the human being as God's chosen creature,
the pinnacle of nature, given dominion over all the Earth.  They view the soul as belonging only to
human beings and not to animals or plants, which do not possess any capacity for salvation or
eternal life.  While the notable exceptions can be found in both science and religion  - and while
true science and religion may stand apart from them -- such anthropocentric beliefs have created
the main thrust of cultural civilization. 

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

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Our social and political orders follow the same impetus.  For our urban development, we were willing
to eliminate not only individual species that are a nuisance to us, but entire ecosystems that may get in
our way. We lay waste to the resources of the planet, both living and non living, as if all planetary rights
belonged to our species alone.  However carelessly we act, we seem to regard ourselves as the only real
feeling entity in the world.  Nature just provides the raw material for our human projects - rocks that
yield minerals, trees that are a source of wood, animals for food and so on.  Other creatures seldom
count, being fit for whatever purpose we deem convenient.

This predominant thrust of western civilization, and modern civilization based upon it, can be defined
according to the image of 'man and nature'.  The result of this civilization is the growing devastation
of our planet.  We are proud of our material progress and forget that it has occurred only at the expense
of numerous other creatures, great and small.  We have created a culture of exploitation in which not
only plants and animals but also human beings are quickly consumed and discarded.

On the other hand, in Eastern and native traditions, the human being is often presented as an insignificant
part of the greater universe that could probably do well enough without us.  The human is merely another
creature, one among many in the boundless universe, like the small figure of a man placed in a vast panorama
of a Chinese landscape painting.  Nature is the reality and we humans are at best a small part of
nature, at worst something unnatural and out of place in a universe that transcends our creaturely arrogance.
This is the image of 'nature transcending man'.  While this view is closer to the truth, there is an
important evolutionary potential for our species that we should not overlook while recognizing it.

A third view exists that can integrate humanity and nature in a way that affords greater meaning to both.
There is an underlying unity of the human being and the universe, not simply relative to material factors,
but in terms of consciousness itself.  The human being at a soul level reflects the entire universe, while
the universe itself is the Supreme Person or conscious being. It is not an issue of man ruling over nature
or nature ruling over man.  The same Self and sense of personhood underlies both the human beings
and the greater universe.  We are the world, not in our current limited state of mind but in our true
nature and higher potential for enlightenment.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
               
   

Subramanian.R

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The Cosmic Person of Consciousness and Light:


One could say that the essence of our humanity is that we are 'sentient'  beings, conscious entities
possessed of feelings and capable of suffering.  We cannot accept that human beings are enslaved,
experimented on, used for food, killed and tortured or any other such demeaning actions that we
might allow for animals.  If offends our sensibilities when we see a human being treated as a mere
thing or 'object'. We respect or dignity and inviolability as a conscious 'subject.  This is because we
recognize existence of a conscious principle in the human person.

We see the human being as an independent being, possessing free will and entitled to his her own
life and happiness.  We feel that humans should be treated fairly and allowed to live as they see fit,
which we refer to as 'human rights' in our various law codes.  There is nothing inherently wrong
with this line of thought except that it does not go far enough.  Our mistakes is thinking that such
a consciousness principle and the rights that go along with it are unique to our species and do not
belong to to rest of the universe.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Consciousness is not something that our species owns.  It is as universal as light.  Some form of
consciousness or feeling exists in all beings down to the rocks. However, once we recognize the
all pervasive nature of consciousness then we must treat all creatures 'humanely' with a similar care
and regard that we would afford a fellow human being.  The same consciousness principle that makes
us feel human is a universal principle that fills the world with light and allows other creatures to live
and move as well.

The universe itself is a person, though without limitations and prejudices of our human personality.
This is what the science of Yoga calls the 'Purusha'.  The Purisha, meaning a person or conscious
being, is a Sanskrit term for the Cosmic Being behind the universe, the spirit within all things.
The entire universe is a manifestation of the Cosmic Person. This Cosmic Person endows every creature
with personhood or a sense of self, not only human beings but also animals and ultimately all of nature.

The goal of classical Yoga -- as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the prime ancient text book
of Yoga - is the realization of the Purusha or cosmic being as our true Self.  (Patanjali I.3.)  This is a
different definition than most people today, consider, with the physical image of yoga that has become
popular in our culture, but it is the actual foundation of the Yoga tradition.  The Purusha or true Self
is the ultimate goal of all Vedic practices and all Vedantic philosophy, examination and inquiry.
Yoga is a path of Self Realization in the deeper sense of this Cosmic Self, not simply knowing our human
self but realizing the entire universe within our own minds and hearts.
 
contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 
     

Subramanian.R

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Our true Self is the universal Self or Purusha that exists within all nature.  The greater concern of Yoga
practice is uniting our unlimited consciousness with the unbounded infinite awareness that the Self of all.

The yogic view of the Self is very different than usual views that emphasize the bodily self, the psychological
self, or the religious soul as our true nature. Our ordinary view of the bodily self is of an entity that is born
and dies along with the body and is as separate from the world as our flesh is from the ground.  Our view
of the psychological self is of an entity created by our personal history during this physical life.  It has the
unique characteristics of our upbringing and education along with the particular capacities that we develop
through our own efforts, making us different than every other person.  Our usual religious view of the soul
is an entity created by God, dependent upon the body and its resurrection,which can perhaps commune
with God in some heavenly world but retains its separate identity and cannot become one with that
supreme Reality.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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In the yogic view,  our true individuality is an inner consciousness that unites us with all -- not a physical,
mental or religious entity that keeps us apart. Our Self is mirrored in all the selves in the universe.
If we look deeply, we can see everything in the universe has a personality or spirit within it, whether
it is the Sun, the mountains, animals or human beings. Every form in nature from the rocks to the clouds
is a face of Consciousness. All faces of all creatures, we would say, are masks of God.

The Cosmic Person exists in an embodied form as the soul within all creatures.  We could say that plants
and animals are evolutionary precursors of human beings or younger forms of ourselves, people in the
making as it were.  The Cosmic Person also exists in disembodied forms as spirits behind the forces of
nature.  We could say that the Sun and Moon are cosmic, older or vaster forms of ourselves -- spiritual
powers and personalities.  The whole universe is the cosmic human being taking many different appearances
and assuming many different functions both individually and collectively as part of its manifold expression.

This view was known to the sages of the Rig Veda, in which the teaching of the Purusha first arose:

The Cosmic Person (Purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be.

From his mind, the Moon was born, from his eye came the Sun.  From his mouth arose the powers of
fire and lightning.  From the wind his breath was born.

From his navel came the atmosphere, from his head Heaven, from his feet the Earth and from his ears
the directions of space.  Thus all the worlds were formed. (Rig Veda X.90, 2, 12, 14.)

The human being is a replica of the greater universe, which itself has an organic structure like the human
body.  We are an expression of the 'self conscious universe' holding both spirit and nature within
ourselves.  This means that we exist in all things, not as a separate species but as part of the underlying
fabric of awareness.  Through the unity of consciousness, the human being is the universe and the
universe is a human being.  We could say that the material universe is the body of consciousness,
while consciousness is the soul of the world.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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This Cosmic Person is both man and woman, the Great God and the Goddess, both the cosmic masculine
and cosmic feminine powers.  It is not simply the essence of humanity but the prototype for plants,
animals and stars and planets.  The Cosmic Person is the universal form, the prime archetype behind
all beings, the 'I behind the I' in all creatures.

This Purusha or consciousness principle of Yoga, however, is no mere philosophical concept, theological
belief or abstract Absolute.  It is the very fire within our hearts that is the light of the entire universe.
The Purusha is Jyotirmaya or 'made of light'.  To truly practice Yoga we must begin with an understanding
of this being of light as our goal.  However, few Yoga students today are aware of the Purusha, much less
its connection to fire, though that has always been the key to the inner process and higher presence of
Yoga. Most meditators aim at understanding the psychological self, not realizing that our true Self is
the cosmic light expressing itself in all of nature, in which our personal psychology gets consumed as
an offering in but an instant.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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The Human Being as Creator Awakening in his Cosmic Creation:

The Vedas tell us that plants have feelings and animals have minds.  (Aitreya Aranyaka II.3.1).
Other creatures are also aware.  They want to live and experience happiness just as we do.
But we humans do have an additional capacity of intelligence that affords us a better potential to
know the Reality or Self behind the universe, should we choose to look for it.

Through the human being, the Creator can become consciousness in his own creation.  God, the
Creator is seeking to manifest through us, so that we can know his own creation from within, with
very creature realizing 'I am all' and 'I have become this entire universe.'

The Self alone was there in the beginning.  There was nothing else that winked. He thought,
'I will create the world.'

Having created the worlds, he thought, 'How can this universe exist without me?  How shall enter into it?'

Having opened the top of the skull and through that means he entered it.  He saw the Person (Purusha)
as God (Brahman).  (Aitreya Upanishad I.1.11;  III.11,12, 13.)

The human being is meant to serve as a vehicle for the entire universe to become self aware.  We are
the instruments of God to perceive his creation through the eyes of his creatures.  This is the great
fulfillment that cosmic intelligence has planned through the long evolutionary struggle.  The whole
purpose of the evolution of the soul, which is also the evolution of life, is the soul's creation of a body
through which it can realize God or the Universal Consciousness.  This is achieved with the human body,
through which we can practice meditation and find God  within ourselves.

We are all sons and daughters of God.  We are created in the image of God, which is a power of light
and consciousness!  We are all meant to become God who is our origin and our home.  That Divine
Being dwells within us as our true Self, calling us to remember our greater nature as All..

The ancients referred to this Cosmic Person as the 'Person in the Sun', as well as the 'Sun of Suns'
(Isa Upanishad 6,7.) and 'the God of Gods', meaning the consciousness principle inherent in light.
The main dwelling for God in the external world is the Sun as the source of light and life.  Similarly,
God dwells within us as soul, the source of life and feeling within our hearts, our inner Sun:

The Cosmic Person, the size of a thumb, dwells in the middle of the heart  like a flame without smoke.
He is the Lord of what was and what will be. He is today and he is tomorrow.  All this is That.
(Katha Upanishad 4.13.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Our soul is this 'first person' or being of light in the heart.  This is what gives us individuality,
character, vitality and creativity.  The fire person within us reflects the Cosmic Person of pure light
in the Sun and stars.

The human being, therefore, is a link creature between the animal and the god or cosmic being.
It is the creature in whom the evolutionary fire is meant to come forth and connect  itself with the
universal light.  Our inner imperative is to become one with the entire universe.  We are not meant
to rule over the world from the outside.  Our task is to embrace the creation from within, according to
the supreme power of love that is its true motivating force.

Yet we must remember that this special evolutionary position is not so much a privilege as a duty .
To honor it, we must sacrifice or personal desires to the greater universal will.  We must recognize
the Cosmic Person as our real being and view all creatures as portions of our greater selves. This means
to go beyond any mere bodily or mental definitions of self.

The Great Equation Revisited:


We can extend our original equation of light and consciousness:

Light = Perception = Consciousness = Human Being = Soul = Cosmic Person.

The human being is meant to be a being of light.  Our human head is like the Sun projecting the
light of consciousness through its openings of the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Our human heart ism
like an inner Sun projecting the light blood of life throughout the veins and arteries of our bodies.
Our true humanity is found not in the body, in our genes or in our social behavior but in the light of
our soul that can feel oneness with all.  Once we are liberated from a merely outward sense of self,
our awareness will be as free and radiant as the Sun in the sky.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
       

Subramanian.R

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We are meant to be walking, breathing, talking form of the entire universe, each one of us with the vastness
of a solar system or a galaxy!  We have not even suspected of the great glory and beauty that we can
project into the world.  The universal being is meant to come to the front and awaken through us,
seeing with our eyes, feeling our hearts and thinking with our minds, remembering its journey from the
stars to the Earth and through the entire domain of nature of this planet. 

Our true humanity, therefore, does not reside our mere humanity.  Our humanness is a reflection of a
Cosmic Person who pervades the entire world.  Our true humanity resides in this Cosmic Human Being
who cares for the entire universe as his own self.  Our highest potential is not merely the scientific or
social advancement of our species, but making our species the matrix for the universal being in its
advent on Earth.

To realize this higher potential we must give up the arrogance of our species that has not only harmed
our planet but also crippled our own inner creativity and awareness.  We must honor that same
conscious being in all nature from the stars to rocks, planets and animals.  We must see our Self in all
beings in the Self as the Upanishads said so eloquently thousands of years ago:

He who sees the Self in all beings and all beings in the Self henceforth has no fear.

Where can there be any delusion or sorrow in whom all beings have become himself, for the
knowing one who sees only unity?  (Isa Upanishad 6-7.)

We must recognize the human face in the Sun, Moon, mountains and clouds.  We must greet the
Sun as our Father and Earth as our Mother, with all the plants and animals as our brothers and
sisters.  We must recognize that whatever we look at also looks back at us with our own eyes,
which are the eyes of our soul and the eyes of the God.  Can you see your own face in every form
of nature?  It is only then that you will really see and all eyes will be yours.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.